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Frequently Asked Questions

Gardening & Horticulture:

When is the best time to prune fruit trees? Usually February & March

When should I prune my grapevines? Usually late January/February

When is the best time to spray fruit trees? Ideally, one would spray when either diseases or insects threaten the trees. For general preventative spraying we can provide a fruit tree spray schedule.

How do I keep deer out of my garden? Many “so called” remedies can be found and some may actually work for a short period of time. Probably the most reliable deer control is a properly designed and installed high-powered electric fence.

Tomato Blight? Prevention is the best. Always buy plants that are “VF” resistant first. This designation means that the plants have a genetic resistance to Verticillium wilt and Fusarium wilt. There are different types of diseases that generally get called “blight.” Some symptoms are triggered by weather conditions and the soil environment where your tomato plants are growing. Others may be more severe due to your watering, insect, or fertilizer management. You will most likely need to bring us a sample of your dying plant so that we an examine the problem more closely and then perhaps send it to the WVU diagnostic lab for an accurate identification of the problem.


When should I collect a soil sample for my garden? Late summer to fall and generally every 2 to 3 years should suffice but the more often the better so annually is OK too.

How deep should I take the soil sample? Samples should represent the soil that exists between the 0 to 6 inch depth.

How many samples should I take for a pasture field? You should collect 15 to 20 borings or soil slices per field if the field is smaller than 10 acres. If the field is larger than 10 acres, a minimum of 30 borings or slices should be collected.

How much lime/fertilizer do I need to apply in my pasture/meadow? Don’t guess, test. Stop by our WVU Barbour County Extension Office and get some soil sample mailing kits to use to send your soil samples to the WVU Soil Testing lab.

When do I apply lime/fertilizer on my fields? Lime and most fertilizers can be applied just about anyt ime the ground is not frozen. Generally, for a hay field in Barbour County, nitrogen based fertilizers should be applied about April 15th to benefit the first cutting hay harvest. To promote second cutting growth or later growth for stockpiling forage for late fall or winter grazing, fertilization should occur just after the first cutting is harvested boost second cutting yields or August 1st to promote fall and/or winter grazing.

Where can I get Chicken Litter? Call the WV Litter Hotline (1-888-3LITTER) or the WVU Barbour County Extension Office at 304-457-3254.

Where do I sign up for the Lime program? Currently the only lime assistance program is administered by the WV Conservation Agency locally through the Tygarts Valley Conservation District. Call 304-457-3026.

Weed Control

A weed is defined as any plant that is growing in a location where it is not wanted. Therefore, many plants may be desirable in one location and not considered a weed but a troublesome weed in a different location. If you need help with weed control, the weeds must first be identified and the degree of infestation determined. Collect a fresh weed sample, place it in a ziploc bag or a plastic trash bag and bring it to the Extension Office. We will attempt to identify the specimen but if we cannot identify your weed, we will send it to the WVU Diagnostic Lab for identification. Following identification and consultation with you a control recommendation will be developed.

Pest Control: How do I get rid of …

Lady Bugs: There still aren’t any “silver bullet” remedies. Some farm supply and/or garden supply stores have some products that offer some control but it is usually limited in effectiveness. Check with your local suppliers for any new product availability.

Gnats: General good housekeeping and a good thorough cleaning once an infestation occurs generally takes care of the different types of gnats and cockroaches. If you have gnat problems, you will need to collect some of them and we will need to identify them before a recommendation can be made.

Ants: Different control measures are necessary for different types of ants and therefore an accurate identification is necessary first. Watch and try to determine what the ants are eating and where they are feeding and where they “trail off to” after feeding. Be sure to keep kitchen and bathroom cabinets and wooden walls dry as Carpenter ants must have some moisture to maintain a colony in your kitchens, bathrooms, etc. If it is food ants and some type, seal up the food.

Carpenter Bees: These “bumble bee” appearing bees can be very destructive to soft wood lumber around the home or farmstead. The generally bore about a 1/2 inch hole into a board and then bore a tunnel at a 90 degree angle from the entry hole to lay eggs in. Bare, untreated boards are targeted before painted or treated boards. Depending on the situation, some insecticide sprays can be used at the peak of the activity. Carpenter bees are not aggressive and generally will not sting unless overly disturbed. The tunnels that they more into the timbers such as building rafters or decks can weaken the structure significantly.

Bats: bats generally migrate in and out of Barbour county one or two times per year. Best control is to use screening after they migrate out of your home to block the very small holes which they may use to enter your home.

Skunks: Our office refers most wildlife control questions to the USDA Animal Damage Control Unit in Elkins, WV. Their contact number is 304-637-0245 or 304-636-1785

Starlings & other birds; raccoons, snakes & opossums (see above)

NOTE: Always read the manufacturers’ label before buying or using any pesticide.